"I'll meet you at noon at—" she paused, looking thoughtful. "Golden—"
"Arches?" he teased.
"No, Dragon. I want dim sum."
Chase eyed her, her wonderful belly, then her face. "Cravings, Miss Lightfoot?"
"No. Hunger. Humor me, I'm pregnant," she said, then stood, kissed her sister's cheek, and nodded to Tigh before she left. Chase looked from Dia, who was smiling royally, to Tigh, who smiled consistently, then to the empty chair. He bolted for the door and the lawyers dropped back into their chairs.
"I feel as if I've cheated my client," Tigh said.
"We didn't do anything."
Dia sent him a sly glance. "Oh, I think we did."
At the elevator Chase caught her, pressed the down button and grinned. "I said noon."
"Where are you going?"
"If it's any of your business, back to work."
"What? Did you think I was independently wealthy? That I could have a baby when I felt like it?"
He shook his head, jamming his hands in his trouser pockets and ruining the fine lines of the suit. "I don't know what to think."
His lips thinned. "Try not to fire on a white flag," he said through gritted teeth.
Tessa sighed heavily. "Look, Mr. Madison—"
"Mr. Madison," she stressed. "You may have contributed to the gene pool, but that's it."
"Are you going to hold the fact that I can't give birth against me?"
She reared back. "Of course not. But we don't have anything to say to each other, and I'd like to keep it that way. Lunch is a compromise."
"You mean a concession to the lowly father, huh?"
God, it sounded so insensitive and spiteful when he put it like that.
"I'm meaningless to you, aren't I?" he continued. "You couldn't care less if I spend the next ten years trying to gain my rights."
The elevator chimed and the door sprang open. She stepped inside and Chase stood still as she faced him and punched the lobby button. The moments between gave her a chance to forget his hurt look and retrieve her determination. He didn't want to simply help financially as Dia suspected. Chase Madison wanted her baby and he was planning to make her life miserable.
"Forget about me, Mr. Madison. The last thing I want is you in my baby's life."
The door closed and Chase jerked his tie loose, then shoved his fingers through his hair. Not the baby's life, he thought angrily, or yours?
Tessa watched him from a distance, gathering her nerve. He'd changed into more casual clothes, and she remembered how he'd kept tugging at his tie earlier that morning. He either didn't wear suits often or just didn't like them, she decided. She watched him as he stared off into the street. The sidewalk café was a good spot, open, crowded. They couldn't argue here. Yet it struck her that he looked lonely, forgotten, relaxed in the chair, one arm slung over the back. Women paraded past him, hoping, she didn't doubt, to catch his attention. But he didn't spare them a glance, his gaze so distant she felt a pang of sympathy. He was divorced, his wife dead, and he lived alone. That's all Dia had been able to find out in such a short time, other than that he owned a construction company.
And you want to take his child away from him, a voice pestered. She moved her shoulder as if to nudge it away. He wants to take my baby. Mine. This child had been all hers, until last week, until his lawyer called, until computer glitches and the damn clinic made it his, too.
Liar, the voice cried. Liar. He is the biological father.
Tessa rubbed the space between her eyes, willing back the threat of a headache, and straightened her shoulders. Nodding to the maitre d', she followed him to the table. As if sensing her presence, Chase turned his head, then leapt to his feet, pulling out a chair. She sank into it gratefully, working off her shoes. Pregnancy and happy feet did not coexist.
She smelled like cinnamon, Chase decided as he tucked her chair and took his seat. They ordered, and when the waiter left, Chase turned his attention to the woman across from him. He'd positioned her chair at a safe distance, sensing she didn't want to be too close, and he didn't want to scare her off. The stakes were too high. She could vanish, taking his unborn child with her, and Chase would be left alone. Again.
"Are you just going to stare at me or what?"
His gaze lingered over her dress. It was the same one she'd worn earlier that morning, and he was glad she hadn't changed. He liked the antique look. It suited her.
"Where do you work, Tessa?" he asked
She thought about saying nothing, but with Tigh McBain for a lawyer, Chase likely knew the shade of her bathroom by now.